Very small samples (under 1 mm) prepared for SEM viewing can be sprinkled randomly on an adhesive-coated stub, or manipulated into position with various tools (fine forceps, pointed stick, cotton applicator, hair brush) under a magnifier or stereo microscope. None of these methods allows reliable, damage-free control over the orientation of the sample. Here follow plans for a simple, portable “Vacuum forceps” to create a mild vacuum th rough a micro-fme tip to hold and orient SEM samples as they are applied to the adhesive. It is also useful for sorting samples. Commercial vacuum forceps with on-board vacuum range in price from $500 to $900. This unit was built from new parts for under $100.
The vacuum pump is from a portable motorized pipetter, such as the Drurnmond Scientific Portable Pipet Aid, or Mano stat Mopet (Figure 1). We have used the Drummond 9V motor and pump assembly.